Tuesday, April 13, 2010
By Steve Strauss for USA TODAY
Q: Steve — You always seem to write about making your small business unique — so as to set yourself apart from the crowd. That seems like good advice, but easier said than done. In my case, my small business is a website, and most websites are more or less the same, so what can we do? — JD
A: What if I told you that there was a surefire way to make your website standout and POP. .. would that be of interest to you? And what if I further told you that this method is inexpensive, easily accomplished, and even so, has a 50 times greater chance of landing you on a Page 1 search result?
I thought that would grab your attention.
What is the secret ingredient, that magic potion, you ask? The answer is — video.
It turns out that of all the things you can do on your website to engage viewers, create more page views and get higher search engine rankings, adding video just may be the best. As I said, Forrester Research did a test and found that when search results are blended (that is, they include text, video, images, news, etc.) videos that are search engine optimized (more on that in a moment) give you a 50 times greater chance of ending up on the all-important first page of a search result.
Now that is what I call standing out from the crowd.
But here's the catch: You can't just add a video to your site and expect a great search engine result for that page. The video must be search engine optimized, that is, it must contain key words in the file names, captions, and so on. That same Forrester blog indicated that less than 20% of all online marketers search engine optimize their video.
That offers a tremendous opportunity for you.
So I spoke with Benjamin Wayne, the CEO of the great video website Fliqz. Fliqz offers affordable, branded video solutions – everything from video hosting, and SEO tools to search engine submission. He explained that offering video content on your small business site actually serves three functions:
1. It helps attract new customers by virtue of the SEO factor
2. It engages them, and
3. It helps convert them into paying customers.
But again, just adding video to your site is insufficient. According to Wayne, if you want your video to be picked up and analyzed properly by Google and the other search engines, you must not only add SEO keywords to it, but you must actually "submit the video to Google using XML tools." Fliqz helps with that too, giving you an easy way to submit your video's URL.
Maybe you are thinking that it is enough to put your video on YouTube and embed the YouTube player and URL into your site. According to Mr. Wayne, that too is insufficient. "The traffic and the rankings will be applied to YouTube and not your site," he says. So the best practice is to add your video to your site and submit your URL and keywords to the search engines.
And don't make the mistake of thinking that you have to create an expensive video for this to work. In this YouTube era, people are used to watching videos that are less than perfect. Of course yours must be professional and add to your brand, but that does not mean they must cost a fortune or take forever to create.
The second advantage of video is that it engages your audience. When you have video on your homepage, 50% to 80% of your visitors will click that first. So video becomes a very effective tool for reducing your "bounce rate" – the amount of people who come to your site, take a quick look, decide it's not what they are looking for, and surf on.
And the final thing video can do for you is to help increase your conversion rate – that is, the number of people who visit and then end up buying something. According to Benjamin Wayne, by using video instead of just text as part of your call to action, your conversion rate can be increased multi-fold.
He gave me the example of a rental property website that decided to vastly increase its use of video: It offered guided tours of each of their properties, and then near the end of each video, up would pop a link that said "Rent me now!" As a result, both the site's traffic and conversion rates increased dramatically.
Web 2.0: It's not just for the big boys any more.
Today's tip: Another very good business book that I recently received and read is The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Strategies for Managing Your Business and Your Life by Gehse Roach. Roach explains how his years as a Buddhist monk and the principles he learned helped him build a multi-million dollar diamond business. It is a compelling book – for not only how to be an ethical and highly successful entrepreneur, but how those principles can change your life, your business, and the world.
Ask an Expert appears Mondays. You can e-mail Steve Strauss at: firstname.lastname@example.org.And you can click here to see previous columns. Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer, author and speaker who specializes in small business and entrepreneurship. His latest book is The Small Business Bible. You can sign up for his free newsletter, "Small Business Success Secrets!" at his website.
Posted by tha artivist at 1:01 PM